Supporting workers in a time of crisis: Key steps for governments and employers

March 16, 2020

Canada’s unions are calling on the federal government and its provincial and territorial counterparts to provide immediate income support to workers in self-isolation, quarantine or who are addressing child care needs.

Income support will be critical to minimizing the economic impact of COVID-19.

In addition, the Canadian Labour Congress is calling on all governments and employers to take every step necessary to protect the health and well-being of workers, including health care workers who are on the frontlines of this public health emergency. These measures include:

  1. Permitting flexible work arrangements, telecommuting, video and teleconferencing, ending non-essential travel, and postponing unnecessary meetings and events.
  2. Providing paid sick leave under short-term disability and sick leave plans while maintaining drug coverage.
  3. Providing 14 days paid sick leave for workers under prevailing federal, provincial and territorial labour standards to cover the quarantine period. 
  4. Waiving any requirement for a doctor’s note to permit sick leave.
  5. Prohibiting coronavirus testing as a condition of continued employment.
  6. Working with Service Canada to take full advantage of the improved EI Work-Sharing Program to minimize layoffs.
  7. Working closely with health and safety committees and unions to provide accurate and timely information to employees about accessing benefits and support.
  8. Providing compassionate care and bereavement leave support to employees, as well as mental health counselling and support.

    Specific to health care workers, employers should, among other things:

     

  9.  Provide an adequate supply of appropriate N95 respirators on hand as well as PAPR (for aerosol-generating procedures, e.g. intubation) and other personal protective equipment.
  10. Conduct a risk assessment to determine all points of potential entry (and how to restrict them) and other points of potential exposure for workers (e.g. screening, triage, isolation rooms).

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